*tap tap tap* Mic check. Is this thing on? Happy Sunday and happy week six of matchups. As I was mid-typing the fifth-week matchups this past Monday, the week suddenly disappeared for the Washington Capitals, as did my blog post. The Caps were set to face the Flyers and Sabres last week, but after COVID decided to go after the NHL, the games were postponed and will be made up at a later date. Kinda funny how no games were postponed when the Capitals had a COVID outbreak, though, right?
With that being said, the Capitals have a full week of games ahead of them (as of right now), and will take on the Penguins, Sabres, and Rangers. After their unintentional bye week, the Caps had time to rest up and get their players that were on the IR/COVID protocol list back into the swing of things. They should have their full squad healthy and ready to go for this upcoming week. Hopefully their week off was a blessing in disguise, considering they’re currently on a three-game losing streak.
We literally were robbed from our first screamin’ eagle night, which sucked big time.
Sunday, February 14th & 16th @ 3 pm – Capitals @ Pittsburgh
Another mid-day game. I almost hate them as much as Kuzy does. Do you know what else I hate? The Penguins.
There are many factors going into this game between the Capitals obviously being off for the week, but the Penguins kind-of did, too. They only had one game this past week against the Islanders, which they ended up winning. Both teams might come out a little rusty, but then again, they usually put their blood, sweat, and tears out onto the ice when these two teams match up.
The Capitals lost the last set of games against the Pens in Pittsburgh, which hopefully fuels the Caps for a redemption dub. The Penguins have won all four of their home games so far, but hopefully, the Caps can crack that. Although the Capitals lost both games, they still walked away with two points, which is critical in the division they’re playing in. One of those losses was during a shootout, which they’ve looked absolutely atrocious in. Thankfully the Capitals were seen practicing those shootout tucks during practice yesterday, so if one of these games goes down that route, hopefully they won’t look like they forgot how to score.
Thankfully, the Capitals offense has seemed to wake up a bit since their last matchup. It’s important to take note that they haven’t been fully healthy since, either. On the other hand, the Caps defense needs to stop taking the backseat and play a full 60 minutes. Their defense knows the guys they have to watch out for, especially Crosby, Guentzel, and Rust, who have had a solid start to their season. The Capitals powerplay currently ranks first in the league, which isn’t saying much considering they always seem to be the team taking the penalties. Drawing more penalties against the Pens would definitely help them capitalize their scoring chances considering they’re 29th in the league for PK. The Capitals wouldn’t be the Capitals without taking a penalty, though, but their PK has been decent, and the Penguins are in 24th when it comes to the PP.
It would be quite hilarious for Ovechkin to bring the same fire he had during his last game and rub it in Crosby’s face.
Thursday, February 18th @ 7pm – Sabres @ Capitals
Honestly, who wants to read about the Buffalo Sabres? Next.
(just kidding, slightly)
Anyways, the Sabres have been off for quite some time, two weeks to be exact. Basically, everyone on their team got the rona, including their head coach. Before their game against the Caps this week, they will be facing the Islanders back-to-back at home to help jog their memory of the game of hockey.
The Capitals have won 3 out of 4 of their games against the Sabres so far this season. During their last matchup, their loss was a shootout loss to Ullmark *pretends to act shocked*. The Caps offense was dominated by the Sabres last game and was outshot 48-31. Both teams were quite effective during the powerplay, but the Caps took more penalties, shocker. The Capitals allowed the Sabres to have five PP opportunities, which they scored on three of them. Buffalo was also given way too many chances off of Capitals turnovers, and this is something that Laviolette is TIRED of seeing, as well as us fans. Carlson and Chara need to get their shit together in terms of turnovers and poor puck handling.
The Sabres are a balanced group, and even though they might not have the biggest names, they mesh well together, which is something the Capitals should not take lightly. The Caps need to get more OZ time coming into this game and have their defense step up to the plate, considering that’s basically what screwed them over when they faced Buffalo last.
Saturday, February 20th & Sunday, February 21st @ 7 pm – Rangers @ Capitals
To close out the week, our rivals from Manhattan come to town. The Capitals were once again annihilated kinda by the Rags during their first meeting on the 4th, which came as a surprise by many. I’m blaming @thebobcat28 for that one considering he jinxed the whole ordeal during our Happy Hour Live show that night. The Rangers came out with a bang, just as I had expected. The Capitals were the better offensive team with 33 SOG compared to the Rangers 31, but Igor had himself a GAME. Vanecek has been looking a little rusty throughout his last few games, but that’s expected, considering he started nine straight games to start off his rookie season. It doesn’t help that the Capitals defense haven’t been playing as well as they should have and have left him out to dry on quite a few goals that have gotten by him.
The Capitals were 0 for 4 on their powerplay last game, which they need to try and capitalize on this time around. The Rangers penalty kill has been looking better as of late. After losing DeAngelo, the Rangers have seemed to connect a lot better with one another and are getting a lot more scoring chances but are still struggling with getting pucks into the back of the net. The Capitals need to remember that they are facing a VERY young team and will have to put more pep into their step to keep up with them not only defensively, but offensively, as well.
Although the Rangers are considered a dark horse to make the playoffs in this division, they’re certainly not a team to sleep on. Everyone knows, especially Caps fans, the scoring ability that Zibanejad has, and although he’s been quite quiet so far this season, he’s been heating up as of late. Panarin is currently out with an upper-body injury, but isn’t expected to miss a large chunk of time, and he’s definitely considered one of, if not, the Rangers top player.
Hopefully with the Capitals having their full roster back, they’ll be able to show more of what they’re capable of this time around.
With the Capitals producing much better offensively recently, especially their top line, I’m going into this week hopeful for quite a few dubs. Backstrom just recorded his 17th point during the first twelve games of their season, which marks his all-time high. Wilson is also having one of the best seasons of his career, so far, and is already almost doubling his all-time record of points per game. Schultz coming back after a puck to the face also helps the Caps out IMMENSELY considering he’s been one of their best d-men, so far, and losing him was quite a dagger to their gameplay.
I’m excited to finally watch the Washington Capitals again instead of the Hershey Bears.